Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Guru of Surbiton

Gently subversive, 'The Good Life' consistently poked and pricked pretensions throughout its run, having the most fun chuckling at the sheer pomposity of suburban life. In 'The Guru Of Surbiton' the storyline satirises the aggressive gentility of 'respectable' people like Margo and Jerry Leadbetter, Tom Good's self satisfaction at his alternative lifestyle and the overbearing seriousness of the students who take him as a role model.

Earnest, sorry, Guy.

The look of love.

At the feet of the Master.
 Tom and Barbara employ two students, Guy and Ruth, to help them with some of their farming work. Over dinner, it becomes apparent that the young man and woman see Tom and Barbara's lifestyle as an ideal, a political and social statement, and that they have adopted Tom as their Guru (and, in Ruth's case, as a potential lover). This initially appeals to Tom's vanity, but he changes his mind when the students suggest they move in and turn the house into a commune.

Tom is generally a genial and amusing character, but he can also be extremely selfish and caught up in his own self-importance: he likes the feeling that he is apart from the world, so has created a universe where everything revolves around him. He hates the idea of others following him and diluting his difference, even going along with the over-reactions of snobby next door neighbour Margo when the students reveal that they are buying the house next door so they can bring even more people in.

The ever watchful Barbara.
 There's an interesting scene where Tom is plotting with Margo to stop the move when he's talking about injunctions and legal rights and suddenly realises that he's fallen back into suburban pettiness and small minded prejudice and, embarrassed, makes a speech about how it's nothing to do with him, none of his business, they can do whatever they like. A previously disappointed Barbara is obviously delighted and, seemingly, rather turned on, by his return to full Tom-ness.

In the end, the students don't move in (Ruth's feelings for Tom make it too complicated), and a relieved Margo states that they will have to carefully vet any new neighbours. When Tom tells her that the house  has been sold to a Banker with a stay at home wife and two children at boarding school, Margo is ecstatic until Tom tells her the buyer's name: Aziz Mohammed Ibn Khan. Her over reaction re-establishes the line between the reactionary Leadbetter's and the revolutionary Good's once again.

Slow realisation.

Sudden shock.


1 comment:

  1. Hang on, this is a word-for-word copy of the entry for the show in that week's Radio Times!